With this scene, Tissot continues to explore Mary’s role in the “Divine plan,” as the artist called the biblical narrative. Mary prays or “sings” her praise of God for giving her a part to play in humankind’s redemption.
While The Annunciation underscored the Virgin’s humble station and modesty, here she stands with head and hands raised to the sky as she utters what Tissot characterizes as a “quiet, reverent, whispered expression of a spirit moved to its very depths.” Her relatives Elizabeth and Zacharias (the parents of John the Baptist, a childhood companion, and later the precursor, to Jesus) look on with a mixture of curiosity and concern. Tissot locates this scene in a verdant garden, most likely to emphasize the Virgin’s fertility.
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Magnificat (Le magnificat), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 15/16 x 4 5/8 in. (25.2 x 11.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.19
Purchased by public subscription
Image: 9 15/16 x 4 5/8 in. (25.2 x 11.7 cm); Sheet: 9 15/16 x 4 5/8 in. (25.2 x 11.7 cm); Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)